Healthplan Spain


Passport with international driving permit Requirements For Americans Driving In Spain Expat Tips

If you are from the United States and are moving to Spain to work, study or even for a vacation, there's a good chance that you will want to drive a motor vehicle during your time here.

When it comes to driving laws and documentation requirements, Spain is no different from the United States and most other countries.

American Driving Licenses and Spain

The Spanish as in the U.S. can be quite strict when it comes to having the correct documentation.

If you are an American driving in Spain, you will need to carry both your valid U.S. driving license, plus an International Driving Permit (IDP).

The International Driving Permit is a separate document that translates your driving license into 10 different languages. It is recognized in over 150 different countries worldwide and allows any foreign authorities to be able to easily interpret your driver's license in their native tongue.

The IDP makes life a lot easier when driving in a foreign country, especially in non-English speaking countries, so is well worth the relatively small investment. Many car hire companies in Spain may also insist on the presentation of an IDP along with your driver's license.

How to Get Your IDP (International Driving Permit)

An IDP can be easily obtained for $20.00 from your nearest American Automobile Association (AAA) office or online via their website here

Once you have downloaded the IDP, you will need to complete it and either take it to your local AAA branch, or send it to the branch via post.

Application for the IDP has to be made via post to the following address:-

There are certain requirements and things you will need when applying for your IDP which you should be aware of. These include:-

  • The fee of $20.00
  • The applicant must be over 18 years of age.
  • Signed copies of the front and back of your current driving license.
  • Two passport-sized photos (See application form for requirements)
  • A completed IDP application form

Your current driving license will need to have at least 6 months of validity remaining beyond the issue of your IDP.

Please note that the IDP is only valid for 12 months, at which time it must be renewed.

The IDP can be renewed from overseas, but your driver's license must be valid for at least six months from issue. You will also need to allow up to 15 business days for delivery of your new IDP.

Traffic Citations and Your American Driver's License

If you do get a traffic citation while in Spain, it's important to note that this is placed against your driver's license and not the IDP document.

Any citations incurred in a foreign country only apply to that country, as the various states' Departments of Motor Vehicles are only able to access a national database. There is no international traffic citations database at this time.

Staying Long-Term in Spain

Unfortunately, Spain and the United States do not have a reciprocal agreement on the validation of U.S. driver's licenses.

If you plan on staying in Spain long-term and becoming a resident here, you will need to take a Spanish driving test and obtain a Spanish driving license.

You can read more about this on our Spanish Driving Licences page.

Private Health Insurance in Spain

If you will be living, working or studying here in Spain, we can provide you with a wide range of expat health insurance policies to cover your everyday health protection needs. All of our policies are in English (or Spanish, depending on your requirements..) and are underwritten by BUPA.

You can get an instant quote here